Forgotten Chicken

This is not called Forgotten Chicken because you will forget about it. Quite the contrary; in fact, I believe that once you sample it, you will remember it forever! It’s more that it’s so simple and hands-off that you could ignore it if you wanted to. It’s the type of quick dinner that comes in handy on weeknights when you don’t know what to prepare (or don’t have the energy to put it together).

It’s a complete meal in a baking dish, with tasty rice and succulent chicken, and all you have to do is combine a few ingredients and bake. Would you trust me if I told you it just takes five ingredients to produce this? It is true. The dish’s base is minute rice, which is ironic given how long it bakes — but don’t worry, nothing goes to mush. You take the rice and combine it with two cans of soup and one can of water.

Any condensed soup will do, but I like the combination of chicken and celery here. Place the mixture in a greased baking dish. Then you’ll top the rice mixture with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Five medium breasts are sufficient, but you can increase to six if they are small, and just four if they are quite enormous. So, how far has this taken you? Five minutes?

There is only one thing left to do: sprinkle a packet of dry onion soup mix over the chicken and cover the dish tightly with foil. Then it goes into the oven for an hour and a half, or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. That extended cooking time makes it the ideal dinner to prepare when you have other things to think about, and I don’t know about you, but I always have other things to worry about.

You might be thinking, “Won’t that chicken be dry?” Won’t the rice be overcooked? Won’t the dry onion soup mix be, well, dry? However, the answer is no on all fronts.The chicken comes out juicy, with the exception of the thinner end points, and the rice is moist and flavorful but not mushy. What about the onion soup mix? Well, that could be the best part.

Because this has been firmly sealed in the oven the entire time, the liquids that recirculate in the dish soften the soup mix and prevent it from becoming too hard. Instead, the onion flavor permeates the rice and, best of all, results in a topping that is bursting with onion flavor.

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